|Nearly There! - at 20 km|
My longest run in the last month was 8 km last week, and then at the end of January, I had a 10k run. I have to go back pretty far to find a decent long run - and all of those were races: I had a 15 km race in mid -December. And then two back to back 15 km races in mid-November. While I don't necessarily recommend this approach for a half-marathon, I felt pretty confident that my base level of fitness and typical training week would carry me through. And it did.
|5 kilometer||32:40 (32:40)|
|10 kilometer||1:06:49 (34:09)|
|15 kilometer||1:41:21 (34:32)|
|20 kilometer||2:15:45 (34:24)|
Nutrition was pretty good in the week leading up to the race. Coming off an Italian ski vacation was a little tough. I had a head cold and was carrying the pasta I enjoyed during the week. No running or training. Just recovery to keep the cold from settling in my lungs. I increased my carbs the last two days before the race and ran an easy 6 km on Saturday to loosen up. I had looked at the course and programmed the watch for specific paces, dividing the course into thirds. While in the start chute, I changed my mind and decided to use the watch to set run/walk intervals of 5:1, without selecting a target pace or heart rate. I have a good idea of what I can do based on a 5km treadmill run and a lot of base training in my aerobic zone. Plus good race advice from Mark.
I have to compliment the organisers. They had enough porta-lets at the start plus a guy who was repeatedly checking that they were clean and had T.P. High class operation.
I went out a little faster than I think I should have, looking at the splits now. I was just carried by the sea of people around me, and it was exciting. I ran with no gear this time. No music, no camera, no fanny pack or hat or coat. I carried a water bottle that I tossed about half way through. I carried five gel packs. One before the start and then one every half hour. That seemed to work okay, except I got an upset stomach after 15 km and I didn't want to eat anymore. I tossed the water bottle at that point too, realizing that between the aid stations and the bottle itself, I was probably drinking more than I really needed. Given how good I felt at the finish and the consistent pace, I think I made a good choice.
I used the intervals to coax myself to run as hard as I could for that five minute segment and to enjoy the walk break with deep breaths and a smile. I swear I smiled the whole race. There's a video compilation and I hammed for the camera. Mark's advice about heart rate and pacing made me feel confident that I could run at near my max HR for the whole race without a problem, and I felt encouraged to let go of a pre-conceived pace that might have proved too difficult for me. When the Garmin beeps at me to tell me I'm going too slow, I start to feel discouraged. This time, I just glanced at my watch and felt satisfied that I was running below 7 min/km. Sometimes the watch said 5:30, sometimes 6, 6:30, but all the time I was giving it my best and encouraging myself to kick it up a bit.
When I realised I was making really good time (again, about 17 km or so), I experienced some difficulty breathing. That happened again when I was finishing, so I went to the aid tent and got an inhaler with some allbuterol. That took care of the asthmatic wheezing and coughing I was experiencing.
Other than a little breathing issue, I had no complaints from my feet, legs or hips - neither during nor after the race. hamstrings are fine! Hip flexors Fine! A long run is hard on the upper body. And I had a sensitive stomach the next day. It felt like I had a stomach bug. Maybe I just don't like eating all that sugary stuff?
I felt positively inspired by and drew strength from the crowds. I slowed to slap hands with every single kid cheering on the sidelines, even the silly little boys who withdrew their hands at the last moment and crowed in delight at their sneaky victory. I also felt inspired by the runners who I saw helping each other through some hard spots. The walk breaks kept me fresh throughout. If you look at the last half of the video, I might not be running any faster than the people around me, but I daresay that I look a lot more comfortable. And the intervals turned a long race in to a completely manageable task. Just five minutes. And I know I can run hard for five minutes!
I still have some personality defects to work through. I felt embarrassed telling people my finish time yesterday. And had to explain myself (new runner, adult onset athletics, used to be quite overweight, blah blah blah). When will I be nicer to myself? I had a great time, a great run. 2:30 is quite a short course limit. Fewer people will turn out with that. I am enough even when I finish last. Which I didn't this time. Almost 20 minutes faster than 2 years ago. Way ahead of the sweepers this time. And smiling and injury-free. Ready to get ready for Antwerp. 70.3. Now that will be fun!